Eclectic Middle school girls

(Courtesy Photo) Under third-year head coach Nathan Taylor, the Eclectic middle school girls basketball team finished the 2021 season 11-1 and swept all four Elmore County opponents. 

The Eclectic Middle School girls basketball team had quite the successful season this year.

The Eclectic girls, which featured girls in the seventh and eighth grade at Eclectic Middle School, finished their basketball season with an 11-1 record. They played each of their six opponents twice.

They split the season series with Coosa, then swept Marbury, Millbrook, Wetumpka, Holtville and Tallassee in the two game series. There is no area championship games for the county, but coach Nathan Taylor’s girls team proved to be the best in the area.

Taylor was leading the middle school teams for his third-consecutive year, while assistants William Venable and Wesley Powell volunteered countless hours of their time to the team.

“These girls were fearless,” Taylor said of his squad. “They played together all season long and they were fearless. They’re a very player-led team. Our record and success definitely has a lot more to do with them than it has to do with me. They never get bored with the fundamentals, and we do a lot of them. That translates over to the court.”

Taylor knew his squad was talented, but they lost their season opening game to Coosa. Following that loss, Taylor texted some of the varsity girls starters to see if they could help the middle school practice one Sunday afternoon.

Due to coaching the middle school in each of the last few seasons, Taylor has a relationship with many of the current players on both the girls and boys varsity basketball teams. So when he texted them to help, a number of girls were willing to help his team ease their nerves in a scrimmage.

In the controlled scrimmage against the varsity, Taylor saw his team begin to start communicating on defense. He said they realized if they talked in the game, it made defense easier.

That showed during the scrimmage, and Taylor said the varsity girls maybe scored only five or six baskets in up to 45 minutes of playing.

“I think that controlled scrimmage with the varsity gave us a head start,” Taylor said. “They really competed with the varsity girls and they weren’t scared against any other team we played the rest of the year. I think that was the difference.”

Following that practice against the varsity squad, Eclectic went on to beat Coosa the next week, then swept each of the five teams on the schedule to finish the year on an 11-game win streak and go 11-1.

That was due to the team’s collective defense, but there were some offensive stars on the team as well. Kristina Elmore led the team’s offense at point guard, and Taylor described her as “even-keeled and just a winner.”

There was also Carlee Sides, who Taylor says is probably the best 3-pointer shooter in the entire school, no matter if they’re in middle school or high school. He said she is the best shooter he has ever coached.

Then there’s Addison Hicks, who he said was the most athletic girl in the entire school. And while all three of them led the offense, they also all played defense at a super high level.

“Those three girls, especially on the defensive side of things, were a big part of our success,” Taylor said. “We did not give up many points.”

The middle schools boys team also had a successful season this year. The boys finished their 12-game season with a 7-5 record and competed in every game. Taylor said his boys never got blown out in any game and every loss was a one or two possession game.

Eclectic boys lost both matchups to Coosa and Wetumpka, but beat Millbrook once, Marbury twice, Holtville twice and Tallassee twice.